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Instagram Stories takes advantage of the critical feature Snapchat lacks

Instagram raised a few eyebrows earlier this month by copying Snapchat with the introduction of its very own disappearing Stories feature.

Now that the debate over the ethics of such blatant plagiarism has died down — in part due to the fact that copycat behavior is common when it comes to social media — Instagram is forging ahead with Stories.

The company’s latest update differentiates the feature from Snapchat in a big way. Instagram is utilizing the power of its Explore tab to help users discover Stories and follow the accounts that post them. Starting Monday, some users will begin to see recommended Stories at the top of the Explore tab. These suggestions are based on your Instagram activity, including who you follow and the topics you are interested in. The feature is set to roll out to everyone soon.

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Like Facebook’s News Feed, Instagram’s Explore tab is curated by an algorithm, which allows for greater personalization. The photo-sharing app is touting the success of the Explore tab, but seems less keen to discuss the numbers surrounding Stories. The company claims 100 million people visit the Explore section everyday, which amounts to one-fifth of Instagram’s 500 million users, reports TechCrunch.

The lack of user guidance when it comes to building a social network is one of the biggest criticisms hurled at Snapchat. The app doesn’t recommend who you should follow, instead relying on an organic, hands-off approach. This in turn is partly responsible for its success with teens and millennials — the former in particular gravitate toward lesser-known apps that don’t resonate with older users. For years, Snapchat was the darling of teens across the country for this very reason, although that may all be about to change. Nonetheless, the company itself has done very little to make the learning curve easier for its 150 million user base.

Instagram, on the other hand, is keen on harnessing its larger audience to propel Stories beyond its current standing as a Snapchat clone. The feature also fits nicely into the Explore tab, which has increasingly been making space for videos on its grid-like interface.

Does Snapchat need to be worried? Perhaps not at present, seeing as its growth is expected to surge ahead undisturbed for the near future. However, if Instagram’s continued promotion of Stories can encourage the daily activity the company craves, users may begin to question the need for two identical apps. That would definitely be a cause for concern for its smaller rival.